Mighty Bold Talk


God damn, I’m getting better at this.

My scripts are tighter. My dialogue is sharper. There’s less fat and more sizzle, less Walking Dead and more Mad Men. Two issues down on the writing end and I do believe I’m building muscle. Writing’s not a chore, not something I have to lash myself into doing, not these days. It’s become habit—even better, it’s become routine. Even when I’m catching up on Justified, Hulu shares the screen with an open word document. It’s a weird feeling, and it tingles. This high school hobby is becoming a job.

This weekend will find me in San Francisco, flashing my face at WonderCon. I’m there to remind the companies we pitched AVERY to exactly who we are, and also to touch base with some of the nice folks we met at Emerald City—not that the two groups are mutually exclusive. I’m there to show we’re taking ourselves seriously, but not awfully seriously, and the men and women with the money should regard us accordingly. It’s just a little thing, but I’ve got the travel money and the darling Great-Aunt Nina I haven't seen in forever, so why not? It’s been a long time since I enjoyed the agony and ecstasy of California public transit.

Meanwhile, though AVERY’s future is still in the waiting place, JD and I may have rustled up a paying gig on the sly. The next few days will tell, but I have a good feeling about this. I’m reliably informed the editor in question has an excellent eye for talent.


Sequence from THE LONE RANGER, by Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello. Dan-recommended. 


Six Pages of Preview

Written by DAN SCHKADE
Penciled and inked by JD SMITH
Colored by JON CAIRNS
Enjoy Responsibly

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The Weekended


Schkade and Smith, Seattle

I drive the three hours from Seattle to Portland and then I sleep for twelve. I wake up to find person or persons unknown have parked their car inside my skull. I down a bottle of water and refill the bottle from the kitchen sink and repeat. I take a daily multivitamin and I chase it down with a fistful of cashews and a little plastic container of applesauce, which I eat with a serving spoon because it’s the first one I grab and in my current state I am unpicky. I check my mail and I watch Californication — a show that reminds me that I like LA, screw the haters — and by now I am something resembling a human being. I’ve spent the last three days inside my superpersonality, the Dan+ version of myself that makes friends and shakes hands and takes care of business of all kinds. I’m a writer; that setting doesn’t come standard. I’m worn, man. But in that nice way.

Emerald City Comic Con was very good to us. Nothing solid as of yet — this was never meant to be the final chapter — but the irons are in the fire now, and a couple of those fires are hotter than Huston. We’ve got heavies interested not just in AVERY, but in Schkade and Smith, comic creators. Something will come of this. Something soon. My mind has settled back into its human Dan.0 state, but I still know that much. And that’s pretty exciting. Special thanks to Batton Lash, who helped us find editors to charm — same kind of help he’s been giving me, pro bono, since I first stuck my toe in the sea of comics. As nice a man as ever I’ve met. He bikes to work, you know.

The real treat was working with JD in person, teaming up as a two-man organism designed only for pitching. I, the tall dark glad-hander with the catch phrases and the corduroy jacket and the spiels about atoms and destiny. He, the blonde-quaffed blue-eyed indie artist ideal whose tasteful stubble and neck-scarf keep warm his rapier wit. Together, we made the Butch and Sundance of aggressive self-promotion. The Briscoe and Greene. The… Danny Rand and the chromatically-challenged Luke Cage. It was great doing a con not only with a product to sell, but a partner to hawk it with. A true-blue business associate. It was rad. Let’s do it again sometime.

Now comes the time of the emails and penciling and the writing, writing, writing. Because artists are writers, see. That’s the thing everyone has to understand. Writers are storytellers.

It’s a month ‘till Stumptown. A lot can happen in a month. Ha. Who needs fear? I’ve got a career to start.




My hotel room has a kitchenette with a refrigerator that hums and vibrates and smothers any sound from the outside world. I move my tongue from one side of my mouth to the other and the noise is loud, exaggerated, like in a movie. I imagine my room to be floating in empty space like Hartigan’s Sin City prison cell, and I’m the only man for miles around in a building full of people.

One o’clock tomorrow, I pick up JD and we head into Seattle. Emerald City begins at two. We’ll be there every day, all day, with our ware to hawk — six completed Avery pages and a full plot summary, printed and pretty behind a frosted plastic cover. I made five. Kinkos helped. The idea was to have a sexy half-sandwich sample of our comic, an existence proof of what we could do, with the whole plot summary as a promise of what was to come. It’s publishers we mean to prove ourselves to, editors, anyone with clout who can get us paid for a job well done. And getting paid, well, that would make us professionals in earnest. That’s been the dream for years. Since I was ten, at least. I don’t know about JD. You’d have to ask him.

Driving up from Portland, I felt for the first time the uncertainty I often tried to exorcize from my colleague. For all my Stan Lee catchphrase bluster, it finally hit — this was happening. We were trying. I was trying. Which brings with it the very real possibility of failure. Uncertainty, sure. Try naked terror.

…but, I’m made up of atoms, stolen from peanuts and celery sticks and re-appropriated for fingernails and optic nerves. I’m an impossible quirk of reality, an intricate after-effect of the Big Bang, an unfolding electrochemical reaction that could go off in any one of a set of directions more numerous than the distinct geometries of every pebble in El Paso. The past stopped existing when it stopped being the now, and the future is a fool’s mirage. It is our intent that creates meaning in a universe that comes with none of its own — which is the whole point of it, as I understand things — and I’ll be darned if I’m going to spend one more precious bit of now on so silly a game as fear. Me, I’ll fit myself with that healthy sense of self-delusion that allows men to achieve beyond the flimsy barriers of the possible. You shouldn’t put much stock in “possible”, anyhow. It changes too often.

So I’m going over my notes. Preparing my pitch. Readying answers to the questions I foresee, honing my mind to handle on the spot the questions I don’t. Remembering my eight-grade speech teacher... Bear in mind, they’ll likely be sitting down. Only gesture with one hand. Speak strongly but not aggressively, smile softly and not too broadly, open your eyes and play up your central Texan accent, with the long vowels and all, yeah, that always goes over well. You’re white and straight, at least sound like you’re from someplace with a story. Which you are, but you know. Be yourself, but an informative version of yourself. Kind of like a comic book character.

The fridge cuts out and I can hear someone coming down the hall — a young man by the sound of those boots and the lightness of that step. I hear the traffic out my window and the television from the floor above. Couldn’t tell you which show. You never can.

I rub my eye with my knuckle and when I pull it back there’s an eyelash stuck to it, so I make a wish and blow.